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How to Give Your Full Attention - Mindful

https://www.mindful.org/how-to-give-your-full-attention/

mindful.org

How to Give Your Full Attention - Mindful
"To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear." -Mark Nepo, poet, philosopher "When I'm at work and listening to someone in a conversation or meeting, half of me is listening and the other half is thinking about what I need to do to prepare for my next meeting."

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Mindful listening

Mindful listening

This constant, low-grade sense of urgency can impede genuine communication. 
Mindful listening - 
focused attention to what another person is saying, without judging or having an agendais a foundational skill that is rarely practised anywhere.

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Hear between the words

When you’re in conversation, set your mind to being present, receptive, and ready to listen with compassion. 

Bring yourself into the moment with a few deep breaths and ask yourself: What is this person communicating beyond the words they use? 

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Use nonverbal cues

When the other person is speaking, just listen. Stay mentally active and alert. Use nonverbal signals like nodding or smiling to let the person know you’re tuned in.

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Notice when your mind wanders

As with mindful breathing, your thoughts will wander. 

When you realize that your mind has drifted, let go of the thoughts and return your attention to what the person is saying.

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Scan your body language

Tuning in to your own body can give you valuable information about your direct experience when listening.

Is there tightness in your chest, uneasiness in your belly? Or do you feel a lightness and a sense of joy?

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Respond with curiosity

When you get fairly good at listening mindfully without speaking, begin to experiment with offering brief verbal comments that express kindness, or ask questions that deepen understanding. 

The key is to keep the focus on the speaker, not to bend it around to yourself. You might try, “Oh, that sounds rough. What happened next?”

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Listening requires mental work

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Mistakes we make in conversations

Our general tendency is to:
  • Evaluate: We judge what someone is saying and agree or disagree.
  • Probe: We ask questions from our own frame of reference.
  • Advise: We give counsel, advice, and solutions to problems.
  • Interpret: We analyze others' motives and behaviors based on our own experiences.

What makes a great listener

  • Asking great questions;
  • Playing attention to the nonverbal communication;
  • Forgoing taking detailed notes to pay better attention;
  • Listening with the intent to understand, not the intent to respond;
  • Making people feel heard;
  • Following up on what matters.

Listen to Learn, Not to Be Polite

Listen from a place of curiosity, not generosity. True dialogue does not happen when we pretend to listen, and it certainly cannot happen if we are not listening at all.

If you ev...

Quiet Your Agenda

Really listen to what someone else is trying to say.

We need information that is disconfirming, not confirming.

Ask More Questions

Ask more questions than you give answers.

When you ask questions, you create a safe space for other people to give you an unvarnished truth.

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Participate

  • Nod your understanding and make eye contact with the speaker.
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Maintain body language that shows you are interested.
  • Avoid...

Ignore Distractions

  • Sit up front.
  • Tune out or shush any chatter around you.
  • Face away from windows and turn off your phone to avoid distractions.
  • Identify your prejudices and prevent them from generating an emotional response.

Keep An Open Mind

  • Focus on the speaker’s central ideas, ignoring the delivery, the speaker or the emotions and judgments you have on the idea.
  • Give the speaker your full attention.
  • Listen for the significance of the message.